In the five short months that Gregg Berhalter has been at the helm in Columbus, the new Crew boss has worked hard to mesh the mentality of his squad with his own attitude. And after the team's first loss under Berhalter, they're echoing their coach once more.
“I don't want to lose any game, and that starts from Gregg,” defender Josh Williams told reporters after the Crew's 2-0 home loss to Toronto on Saturday. “We want to come out and win. We're all really mad about this. ... But it is a learning experience. I think we're going to learn from this, take it as a positive, and move on.”
And that's exactly Berhalter's mentality. The coach called the team's start to the match “horrendous,” but still managed to crack a few smiles in his postgame press conference, and midfielder Hector Jimenez said that even in the locker room, Berhalter preached optimism.
“It was positive, positive thoughts,” Jimenez said. “Gregg's a positive guy. It's always tough losing at home, but he's a positive guy and we'll just try to learn from our mistakes today and move on.”
Does that mean Berhalter hopes to throw out the tough loss like so many coaches do? Far from it. Instead, he relishes the opportunity for the chance to grow after the team's first loss.
“We're going to learn from it,” he said. “I think there's a lot to learn from this game. Having said that, this is this group's first loss, and how long have we been together?
"There will be more losses, but this is our first loss. This is a good test for us as a group to see how we respond and how we get back and when the hunger is there again. I'm looking forward to the response.”
Whether positive or angry, Crew players say they'll always take Berhalter's lead. Goalkeeper Steve Clark – a veteran in a relatively young squad – seemed calm after the match, and stressed the team's confidence in their coach.
“He's our leader; we respect him, and we listen to him,” Clark said. “He says we're going to learn from it, and we are. He'll be leading us next week, and it's a long season.
"The first loss of the year is always a tough one, but we've got 30 more games, and if we play like we did in the second half, we'll be ready to go.”